Box Betting in Horse Racing

Box Bets in Horse Racing

Interested in trying to bet in a horse race but held back because you have no idea what order the horses would finish? At times like this, the wager to put down is a box bet.

This article covers how a box bet horse racing works, calculations, and illustrations bettors can use to help them achieve horse racing betting success.

At, we also provide detailed discussions about horse racing betting strategies, straight bets, and other exotic wagers for a winning ticket.

What Is a Box Bet?

Box bet means you’re playing all the combinations of the horses you selected, allowing you to bet on horses with more chances of winning.

Like any other sports betting, it’s relatively easier to place your box bet online because you only need to enter the number of horses you want to box out. Just wait for the horse race to finish so you’ll know the exact payout.

At, we offer bonuses through our Belmont Stakes promotion. Guess the top 5 finishers to get $10 in free bet credits for every correct prediction. You can even earn a $1000 bonus if you predict the exact order of the top 3.

What Are the Types of Box Bets?

A straight bet is the simplest bet you can place when wagering on a horse race. You’re betting on a single horse to either win, place, or show.

In a win bet, you’re betting on a horse to finish first. If that horse wins, you win your bet.

Meanwhile, place and show bets are for betting on two or more horses.

A place bet is a wager on a horse to come in first or second place. A show bet (also called ‘finishing in the money’) is a bet on a horse you think will finish first, second, or third.

‘Boxing’ a bet is a strategy within multiple bets, like exacta, trifecta, and superfecta. These wagers are designed for handicappers to select the order in which several horses will finish during a single race.

Exacta Box

In an exacta box, you bet on two or more horses to land first and second place. It is different from an exacta wheel, which only requires a specific order from two sets of horses.

For example, in a nine-horse race, you narrow down #1, #2, and #3 as the likeliest to finish first and second place.

You can place a 1-2-3 exacta box bet, covering all six possible combinations.

  • 1-2
  • 1-3
  • 2-1
  • 2-3
  • 3-1
  • 3-2

For your exacta bet to win, any two of these three selections must finish first and second. This bet covers six possible combinations, which means a $1 bet could become $6.

The more horses you add to an exacta box, the quicker the payout grows.

Number of Horses


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You can also add a key horse to an exacta box. Keying a horse means including it in every part of the exotic wager, with other horses going around it in the bet.

Let’s say you’re looking at horses #1, #2, #3, and #4. You feel confident with horse #1 but are unsure which of your other picks would get second place.

A good option is to make horse #1 your key horse to take first place. The bet covers the following outcomes:

  • 1-2
  • 1-3
  • 1-4

This type of bet costs half as much as the three-horse box, but it can give you a large payout as long as #1 finishes first.

Trifecta Box

In a trifecta box, you select three horses you think will secure the first, second, and third orders of finish. You win the bet if those three horses finish in the correct order.

A trifecta can be hard to hit because any runner may either land third or plod home, so you use the trifecta key. You find two or just one key horse and use it on top, and then spread your ticket out for the second place and third spot.

Imagine an eight-horse race in the Kentucky Derby, for example. If you choose horses 6, 7, and 8 but can’t decide which will win, place, and show, then a trifecta box provides an answer.

You can box horses 6, 7, and 8. These horses can finish in the first, second, and third spot in any order on a racetrack.

  • 6-7-8
  • 6-8-7
  • 7-6-8
  • 7-8-6
  • 8-6-7
  • 8-7-6

Handicappers sometimes try to look for a longshot (a horse with a slim probability of winning) to land in their trifecta bet.

Starting from a base bet of $1, a trifecta box with three horses has a total cost of $6 since it covers six possible outcomes.

You can easily bump that up to $24 by just adding one more horse to the mix, but the box cost becomes expensive from there.

Calculating the cost of a basic trifecta key is simple. A $1 trifecta key with one horse over three other horses equals $6, or 3x2x1 = 6.

Superfecta Box

With a superfecta box, you select four horses you think will finish the race in the top 4 spots without providing the exact order of finish.

The more horses you select, the larger the cost of the bet. Handicapping can be difficult, so use a proven exotic bets strategy the next time you bet on horse races.

You may want to try wheel betting if you’re interested in more variation in this type of wager.

With wheel betting, you have the option to spread bets around depending on what you really like in a race. Wheel bets can be full wheel or partial wheel. Key bets are also part wheels.

Horse racing bets can be fun and profitable if you know how each bet works. Browse our website and read more about horse race betting.

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